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On Eating Belizean Rat

: Memoirs

The year was 1985, and Queen Elizabeth II was on one of her whirlwind tours of the commonwealth. During a ceremonial dinner in Belize, she was served a stew of the national dish, gibnut. Tastes like rabbit, she remarked.

The gibnut, alas, is a rat.

The four sauces

Fast forward to recent-ish days, and I, too, had the pleasure of trying gibnut in Belize. One might think it would be easy to find rat-based dishes anywhere in the world, but that’s not the case. The gibnut is only sporadically available in traditional Belizean restaurants, and you’ll have more luck finding it in outlying areas. We hit the jackpot in San Ignacio, right on the border to Guatemala.

How does the gibnut taste? Was it an insult to the queen? Will it be the foie gras of our time?

Not too bad; nah; no.

Describing the flavors is hard. Often we tend to compare unfamiliar meats to chicken, but that is because unseasoned white meat generally is flavorless. Gibnut is, despite its color, not chicken. Traditionally served, the fatty, stewed pork is flavor wise more similar to the traditional Norwegian Christmas dish, ribbe (ribs). The fat dominates the palate, and it is all things considered an unremarkable dish. I liked it as far as comfort food goes.

As for the Queen? I could not pick up on any notes of rabbit, but as she never complained, why should we?

- Remi,